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Types, Methods and Consistencies of Sauces

By: Margaret Paxton - Updated: 6 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Sauces Ingredients Method Easy Simple

Types, Methods and Consistencies of Sauces

Sauces can make a meal. The addition of a well made sauce to the simplest of sweet or savoury dishes can transform it into something really special. They don’t have to be elaborate or complicated-thick onion gravy with bangers and mash is a sauce that can transform the meal, as is a creamy cheese sauce with cauliflower. Simple but effective.

Types of Sauce

Basic sauce types include: roux-based white and brown sauces that are commonly used as the foundation for other sauces and soups; egg-based sauces for richer, creamier, dishes; tomato-based sauces that are extremely versatile and can be used on their own, as a base for soups and stews, or as one of the most popular sauces in Italian recipes; cold sauces to accompany vegetable and fish dishes; fruit and herb sauces that are often served with meats (cranberry and mint for example.)

Roux-based sauces are made with a combination of flour and butter that have a liquid added to them and, frequently, further ingredients to complement a particular type of food. These include sauces like gravy, béchamel sauce, cheese sauce, parsley sauce, mushroom sauce, onion sauce and numerous variations, including veloute sauce. Veloute means velvety in French and with the use of egg yolks and cream in this white sauce, it’s easy to see why! Further compounds of white and brown sauces include the exotic-sounding Allemande sauce, Chantilly, Demi-glace, Espagnole, Mornay and Supreme. There are hundreds of variations on the basic savoury sauces.

Methods Used in Sauce-Making

When making a roux base, the most important factors to remember are to use the right flour/fat mixture and heat at the correct temperature. This stage is the single most important of making your sauce and needs complete attention! (For tips on how to rescue sauces, see ‘Useful Sauce Tips & Serving Suggestions’.)

Blending is another method of making a white sauce base. Plain flour or cornflour is mixed to a smooth paste with a little cold milk. Hot milk from a pan is poured over the paste and the combined ingredients then returned to the pan, brought to the boil, gently simmered, then butter and seasoning added.

Fry onions in butter, then add the flour and the roux is made with the onions in the same pan. The addition of milk, or a combination of stock and milk, helps to create a delicious onion sauce.

Egg yolks can be beaten on their own, with cream, butter, or with stock, to add richness to certain sauces. Home-made mayonnaise and custard are two of the simplest to make but taste great.

Sauce Consistencies

Although it depends, to some extent, on personal preference and the type of meal a sauce is to be served with, there are some guidelines to remember in order to achieve the desired consistency of a sauce.

  • First, it should be smooth and lump-free
  • If the sauce is to be poured, it should pour!
  • A coating sauce should cover the back of your spoon without being runny or sticky.
  • Apart from eggs and cream, thickening agents most commonly used for sauces are flour, cornflour and arrowroot. A beurre-manie is useful for thickening stews, too, and is made by kneading an equal amount of butter and flour into a paste (using fork or fingers) that can then be added, in pieces, to the hot liquid. Stir or whisk until the butter has dissolved and the flour dispersed, and the sauce is thick and smooth; but take care that the sauce does not boil.

    Thickening is also achieved by reducing (boiled down until the liquid becomes less and thicker)to the desired consistency.

    In general, a sauce should look appetising and pour or coat-according to its purpose-to give your meals that extra something.

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